Rights Group Disputes Mandate of Union

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of Public Works and Transportation Sun Chanthol, and In­terior Ministry and provincial officials met on Wednesday with a group claiming to represent taxi drivers angered by new toll charges on National Route 4.

However, local rights group Adhoc said that the group—called the Cambodia Trans­por­ta­tion Association and represented by Executive President Heay Ou Sun—did not represent the interests of taxi drivers who took part in protests last week against the AZ Investment Co, Ltd toll.

Ten taxi drivers who were registered with Adhoc to represent the cause of the disgruntled drivers were not invited to the meeting with Sok An, Chan Soveth said.

Heay Ou Sun, who claimed his organization started in 2000 and had 123 members, said he told Sok An that taxi drivers want the $1.40 toll imposed this month by AZ Investment to be reduced to $0.25.

Sok An replied that while the toll reduction was being considered, he would take measures against illegal parking lots that overcharge taxi drivers and against illegal police checkpoints, Heay Ou Sun said.

“I think that way, the taxi drivers can save the money to pay the AZ company,” Heay Ou Sun said.

Heay Ou Sun confirmed that his little-known organization works closely with the government’s Human Rights Com­mit­tee, headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng, but was not affiliated with the government.

Chan Thun, one of the 10 taxi driver representatives chosen by protesters to enter discussions with the government, said Wednes­­­day that Sok An’s purported compromise was not good enough.

“The [AZ] company did not renovate the road. It is the same since the Americans built it. The government should not allow the company to charge us money since the company didn’t do anything to the road,” he said.

AZ General Manager Chuon Van Dorn declined to comment Wednesday on charges by taxi drivers and opposition lawmakers that the company’s minimal renovations to National Route 4 could not justify a toll charge.

Two taxi drivers held for their involvement in the Jan 4 and 5 protest against the toll were still behind bars on Wednesday.

Kandal Provincial Court Judge In Bopha said he could not release Thorn Than and On Sam Ol because he had not finished completing documents for the case.


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